Five hundred French dairy farmers are to take Lactalis to court over the price they were paid last year for their milk.
The legal action has been made possible by a change in French legislation in October that allows producers to act collectively.
Previously, milk producers, along with those in other farming sectors, could only file an individual claim with the judicial authorities for their own business, which discouraged legal recourse.
The action has been supported by trade body, Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Lait (FNPL), which estimates the impact incurred by the Normandy farmers in 2014 was EUR8,000 (US$9,299) per farm. The farmers have a combined output of 220m litres of milk.
“The crux of the matter is that the current contractual system is not transparent and allows Lactalis to determine the price,” the FNPL said. It said other milk producers were poised to take similar action.
Officials at Lactalis were not immediately available for comment when contacted by just-food.